Books I’ve Been Reading

Some of you may know that since mid-February, roughly about the time I started this blog, I’ve been experiencing a bit of a writing renaissance.  Or, let me rephrase this: a rebirth of creative writing, because I was always busy writing articles, talks, research findings, blog posts.  So much so, that I think it left me in a soapy bath of corporate-speak: dozy, inert, unwilling  to step out of its reassuring warmth.

Since that time, however, writing has been pouring out of me like a water out of a burst watermain, and somehow this has survived two school holidays (one is still ongoing), a long bout of flu and a house move.  Any of these factors by itself would have been enough to make me run and hide the manuscript/save the file in some obscure folder/dump it all in a box in the garage in the past. But now…

Now I even have time to read something other than just crime fiction (which I still love to read, but I think I was also using it too much to unwind and switch off my brain, instead of challenging myself with different kinds of writing).  OK, compared with some of you voracious readers and book bloggers out there, I am very small fry indeed.  I’ve calculated that I’ve read about 18 books in 10 weeks, which is 1.8 per week (even though I have more than one on the go at any given time).  That is a very faint and far cry indeed from my teenage self, when I could devour that amount per day (and write extensive reviews of each one).

Anyway, because my nosey self always enjoys looking at other people’s reading lists, here are some of the more memorable books I’ve been reading these past ten weeks:

Fred Vargas: Dans les Bois Eternelles

Sheila Kohler: Becoming Jane Eyre

Chris Pavone: The Expats (I have a review of it here)

Orhan Pamuk: My Name Is Red (which I think I will review at some point)

Bret Lott: The Difference Between Women and Men

Patricia Duncker: The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge

Robert Bly: Silence in the Snowy Fields (poetry)

Stanley Kunitz: The Wild Braid (talking about creativity and gardening)

Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit (you can read my thoughts on it elsewhere on the blog)

Le Carré: The Constant Gardener

Fred Vargas: Sous les Vents de Neptune

Virginia Woolf’s Diary edited by Anne Olivier Bell (rereading)

Ha Jin: Waiting

Not a very impressive list, I’m sure, in terms of quantity at least. I’ve also been re-reading a couple of other books (poetry and novels), an anthology of short stories and the wonderful stories and poems that appear on so many of your blogs.  With the exception of the last, what is the common trait of all of the above?  That they are nearly all (‘The Expats’ is the sole exception) books that have been out for many years and that I had never got around to reading.  Whether that means I am deeply unfashionable, badly out of date, or just starting to crank up my engine for becoming a good and prolific reader (and writer) once more, I don’t know.

Here’s to hoping…

11 thoughts on “Books I’ve Been Reading”

  1. Well, I’m impressed. I’ve read (I think) two books this year. Wait, no, just one. Half of another before I took it back to the library. Keep up the reading and writing!

  2. Wow, you read a lot. I wish I could claim the same, although I did re-read George Saunder’s Pastoralia over my recent vacation (mmmmmmm). Mostly, I start books and forget to finish them– the same goes for conversations and cups of tea. You must tell me how you manage to be a mother and a mover and a reader. How!!?

  3. Thanks for your wolf-whistle equivalents, Robert and Anna. I seriously don’t think that is very much for ten (OK, nearly eleven) weeks, but waaaaay better than my pre-creative spurt phase. The number of times I’ve renewed and then re-renewed things from the library and then finally had to take the darn book back, defeated… And yes, me too, to unfinished conversations and cups (of coffee in my case).

  4. Hey, that’s a very impressive and credible list and congratualtions on getting through Pamuk’s most difficult volume of all, his other work is nothing like that novel.

    I have read a similar number of books of you, however I am very happy to have read that much and I think you should share some joy in that, a breather between books or even between bouts of reading can contribute more to the enjoyment of a read, I find myself still talking about a book I finished last weekend, yesterday, they stay alive and relevant when they aren’t so quickly replaced by the next thing. I observe in the blogosphere voracious readers, but not in the real world and at 1 book a week, people in the real world see me as somewhat obsessed. (Well maybe there is a grain of truth in that, I do love to talk books, language, writing).

    And I’m all for reading what you are inspired to read and not just the next, latest thing, reading is like fashion, following the latest or you can be more individual and find other reasons to pick up a volume. I read from my bookshelf often, so they are not new books, but they are what I am drawn towards and I actually resist that urge to over ‘consume’ new books, though like a fashion follower, I regularly browse and keep up with what’s on display and what is being published and which authors are coming in to read next.

    Bonne Continuation with the creative writing!

  5. Very wise comments, Claire, thank you for that. I too am drawn to my own bookshelves (or libraries) and choose according to mood or curiosity. And I love rereading, so I always want to leave time for that. And digesting, as you suggest.
    I’ll have to read more Pamuk then – I liked ‘My Name Is Red’ to start off with, and then the elaborate Byzantine style became a bit wearisome.

  6. Hey you, I think that is a fairly impressive list, acutally! I average a book every about two weeks at the moment, and my TBR is so tall, it’s threatening to topple over and bury me. So congrats on setting yourself a challenge and reading so much, and so much variety!

    1. Yes, but you have managed to finish your second novel, while I’m still struggling with my first. So obviously no one can be productive on all fronts…

  7. I’m impressed – finding time to read is one of the first things to go when I’m super-busy. Your life sounds as manic as mine. Hopefully things will settle down a bit now you’re all moved and sorted. Do you find that when you’re writing a novel, say, you can’t read in the same genre? I do.

    1. Goodness no, I could not live without reading crime fiction! Sadly, I find exercise and such is likely to go first when I’m up to the hilt in stuff.

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